A morning-tea garden party at Stanmore House in Sydney brought together different areas of The Salvation Army showing the new Area Leadership Team (ALT) in action.

The Salvation Army introduced ALT's earlier this year, in an effort to get different mission teams together on a regular basis to find ways to collaborate better, in order to live out the mission of the Salvos.

In Sydney's inner-west, at one of the first meetings, representatives from each team talked about the joys and challenges they face. The chaplain at Balmain's Montrose Aged Care Centre, a centre for ageing men said it was often challenging to organise appropriate or suitable outings.

"We are fairly restricted with a lot of our men as to where they go, because socialising is not something that is easy for some of them," said Montrose chaplain, Major Cheryl Kinder. Upon hearing this, the manager of Stanmore House, Major Raewyn Grigg, suggested that the men come to her Centre, which has lovely gardens and grounds and gates that can be locked for safety.

"Can we come too"? piped up the chaplain from Maybanke Aged Care Centre in Dulwich Hill. From that conversation, the idea was born, and the three Salvos met to work out the details.

Area Officer, Major Beth Twivey, said other Salvation Army teams also jumped on board to help, with people from Inner West Salvation Army Corps attending and the Divisional Headquarters youth team also involved: "The youth team person was there (at the original ALT meeting) and said, 'We've got life-sized games like Connect Four that you could use'... so, it was a real partnership of all the expressions."

On the day of the Garden Party, the sun came out after many days of rain, and residents from Montrose and Maybanke Aged Care Centres arrived at Stanmore House where there was an air of excitement.

They were greeted by staff who served them a delicious array of morning tea, enjoyed live music and interacted with each other through playing games and chatting.

An invitation had also been sent to the non-Salvation Army Aged Care Centre across the road from Stanmore House, with around 20 residents and staff attending from there as well, including the Inner-West ALT members Chaplain Jill Whittle (Maybanke Aged Care Centre), Major Raewyn Grigg (Manager, Stanmore House), Major Beth Twivey (Inner-West Area Officer) and Major Cheryl Kinder (Chaplain, Montrose Aged Care Centre).

"There was a great vibe and energy, lovely food, good music and the games," said Major Twivey, who shared a short message from the Bible and prayed during the event.

According to Major Grigg, Stanmore House is far more than just a conference, training and accommodation centre, and the Garden Party was one of a number of events in which its people express their missional heart: "We believe here we are mission-focused," she said. "So we want our people - anyone who comes here onto our site - to be equipped, to be encouraged and to come closer to God. I believe, and my staff are with me on this, that we have a responsibility to connect with our community. We are The Salvation Army in Stanmore."

The Garden Party was a resounding success. Major Kinder says the Montrose men who attended are still on a high from the day out.

"Just to come and sit together and talk with people and be free to move around the beautiful setting, they just loved being at Stanmore House with so much going on and so many people and laughter and music and fun. Then, being spoiled with the beautiful presentation of food that they were given, was just something that they're still talking about!"

One man, David*, had grown up in the suburb of Stanmore but hadn't been back in many Major Twivey said the success of the day boiled down to the mission teams working together to be The Salvation Army in that place. "The body of Christ functions best when it works together," she said. I see this as a learning, for say, another ALT

around the nation."

"I'm sold on ALT groups," said Major Kinder. I'm sold on working collaboratively. Partnerships are just huge. What we can do working as a team is so much stronger than trying to do it on our own."

"We're already talking about what we can do next, it's very exciting!"

*Name changed to protect privacy.

Written by Lauren Martin for Others Magazine.